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Growing up in Ducktown - Part 2
By Dave Roman

Do you have a refrigerator with an "icemaker"? I can remember the ice man coming to deliver ice to my grandmother's "ice box". They would deliver this big block of ice to her sink in the kitchen and she would chop it up and put it in the freezer portion of the ice box (the top part). She had no refrigerator.

Frozen food? We didn't have frozen food. We had leftovers for the next couple of days. My grandmother also used a washboard! Ask your mother what that is.

We had coal delivered to our house. Coal? Yes, coal furnaces heated our homes. The truck would back in the driveway, and we'd open up a basement window that was above the "coal bin". He would shovel it down the chute into the coal bin. That coal usually lasted us the whole winter.

Each winter day, we would shovel coal into the furnace to keep the house warm. We'd also empty out the "klinkers", (the residue of the burnt coal), put them in a container and take them out to the garbage for the rubbish men to take.

My best friend back then was a guy named Ron Perry. He lived a couple of streets away. When I went over his house to see if he wanted to come out and play, I didn't knock on the door. That was unheard of. I would stand outside the door or kitchen window and start yelling, "Oh Ron ee", "Oh Ron ee".

When he heard me, he would come out. If, after a few minutes of "calling him out", no one answered, I knew he wasn't home or he couldn't come out! That was communication!

My father worked at the Richman Brothers which was a company that made men's suits and at that time, they were one of the best suits made for the price. My father told me that one of the Richman Brothers would stand at the front door to the factory and greet every employee. He knew almost all of the hundreds of employees by their first name. How's that for a family company?

Each year the company would sponsor a picnic at a local amusement park called Euclid Beach. It was a fun place to go. Nothing like the "super parks" of today like Cedar Point.

Compare their strategy to Enron or World Com. In the bleak depression year of 1932, V.P. Frank C. Lewman of Richman Brothers Company walked glumly into Board Chairman N.G. Richman's office one day and said:

"Nathan, lets face it. We can't keep going unless we do what everyone else is doing - cut pay." Richman asked, "What would a plant wide cut save?" "About $150,000," Lewman replied.

Nathan thought for a moment, then directed: "My two brothers and I will each give up our $30,000 salary. That's $90,000. Next, let's cut all officers' salaries, including yours , one half. How much will that save?" Lewman said $60,000.

"Good!" exclaimed Richman. "There's your $150,000. Now don't go cutting anybody else's pay." Do you think any executive's today would do that? Enron could have really learned integrity from the Richman Brothers.

Today's kids are overweight and out of shape. We are raising a generation of wimps. Since we didn't have TV's and were only allowed to listen to the radio for a limited time, we had to go outside and play! We played baseball, football and hockey.

You might immediately think of a sponsored school league or CYO football. We started by playing a game called "strikings out". We would use a regular wooden baseball bat (never heard of aluminum bats. They didn't exist at that time). The ball was a tennis ball.

We had a public school two streets away from us with a big school yard. The building was L shaped and fenced in on the other two sides. We would take a piece of chalk (or gravel) and draw a strike zone on the wall. We could play with two or three players. One guy would pitch, and one would bat. If we had three, the third gut would play the outfield.

The pitcher would pitch and he could get a pretty good curve on a tennis ball. The pitcher could also throw a pretty good fast ball. If you hit a ground ball past the pitcher, it was a single. A hit over the pitchers head was a double. A fly ball that hit the fence on a bounce or a fly was a triple. A hit over the fence was a home run.

That home run could end the ball game because one fence was along a main street called Harvard avenue and a private yard was on the other side of the other fence.

If we had a third guy, he was the outfielder and sometimes caught the fly balls. We learned how to pitch and we really learned how to hit. When I joined a City of Cleveland Class F league years later, I never struck out due to the skills learned playing "strikings out".

Football was played in the fall and usually was rough tackle played in a local park or in a vacant lot, most of the time without any type of equipment. No one ever got hurt.

The streets in my neighborhood were all "red brick" streets. We didn't have cement streets. We would sometimes play rough tackle on the red brick streets and no one ever got hurt there either. (We tackled a little more carefully.)

When winter came, we played hockey in the streets. The same red brick streets that were covered with snow and ice. We didn't own ice skates, so we'd slide around on our shoes.

And guess what? During summer vacation, I left home in the morning to play ball and didn't come home until supper. No supervision, no crazy people trying to kidnap us kids and we didn't get into any trouble! All on our own.

We knew right from wrong! We rode our bikes to the school yard to play ball and we didn't wear helmets or knee pads. Mothers didn't worry, because they trusted us.

Part 3 - Shopping,driving and more in a simpler time



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